Published on November 4th, 2018 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Red Flag Motors & Baidu Autonomus Car Planned
Chinese tech giant Baidu said on Thursday it will launch a fully autonomous passenger car next year in a partnership with Hongqi, or Red Flag, a brand used by China’s political elite. Hongqi, owned by automaker China FAW Group, is widely regarded as a symbol of China’s early communist revolutionary elite, including Mao and Deng Xiaoping, who used the luxury sedan in the 1960s and 1970s.
Baidu will produce a limited number of fully automated level 4 Hongqi vehicles in 2019 for a pilot operation, before wider release in 2020, Baidu CEO Robin Li and FAW Chairman Xu Liuping said at an event held to announce the plan. Baidu has previously unveiled fully autonomous buses and trucks, but the Hongqi car marks a major push into self-driving vehicles for public use.
The tech firm is leading the charge in China’s effort to build autonomous cars with strong backing from the Chinese government, which named Baidu – whose main business is internet search – as one of four national champions in artificial intelligence (AI).
The company is also working with several of China’s largest cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, to develop autonomous driving infrastructure and public smart transport technology.
The Hongqi marque has undergone several revamps over the decades, falling out of favor for a period in the 1980s, but more recently being revived amid a national push to promote Chinese brands. In April at the Beijing auto show, Red Flag presented a two-door electric-car concept called E-Jing GT.
President Xi Jinping rode a Hongqi car during recent military parades and last month a Hongqi car was used to transport Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a rare state visit.